1) Brandon Jacobs, running back, New York Giants
Team: Nicholas Minnix | Team Roster
Reason: This is a bit of a gamble, perhaps, since all 2009 signs were negative. Jacobs ran for 1,000 yards and 15 TDs in 13 contests in 2008, though. The Giants' offensive line was in shambles last season, but they still have one of the better walls in the biz. The behemoth of a back played for most of last year with a torn meniscus, which is surgically repaired. He also ran very tentatively - not how he'll achieve success. Reversion to assertion could mean a fairly large boom, thanks to his scoring prowess. Training camp will tell us a lot.
Others Considered: (Briefly) Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown
Standards Set: 1,000 rushing yards, nine to 11 TDs
2) Hines Ward, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
Team: Tim Heaney | Team Roster
Old but steady
Reason: Ward buoys my Wes Welker pick. No Big Ben for awhile, I know, but Ward can rack up catches regardless of who's slinging. The 34-year-old is reliable, kind of like my Adam Dunn of fantasy football. Byron Leftwich (shudder) will lean on veterans. Without Santonio Holmes, Ward should at least sustain his frequent targets. With Ward as my No. 2 or No. 3 in a point-per-reception setup, I'm pleased.
Others Considered: Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin, San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers
Standards Set: 80 receptions at minimum, even if his yardage suffers in the early part of the season. I'd prefer to have him as my No. 3; hopefully Welker comes back soon so my wideout corps can stretch out its depth.
3) Philip Rivers, quarterback, San Diego Chargers
Team: Ilan Mochari | Team Roster
Reason: In Round 5, the need for a No. 1 QB trumped the need for a No. 3 RB or a No. 3 WR, especially since so many potential No. 3 guys should be available in Rounds 6 and 7. By contrast, at quarterback there was a drop-off after Rivers, wading into the waters of Brett Favre, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan and Eli Manning. Of all these, Favre was tempting, but his age and the health of Sidney Rice disconcerted me.
Others Considered: Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre
Standards Set: There's little reason to believe Rivers can't repeat or exceed his 2009 numbers: 4,254 yards passing, 28 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. If anything, Rivers may throw for more touchdown passes, now that the Chargers don't have to feed LaDainian Tomlinson in the red zone.
4) Ronnie Brown, running back, Miami Dolphins
Team: Mike Egnak | Team Roster
Reason: Even though Brown lasted only nine games last season, he performed amazingly to start the year. He scored eight touchdowns in the shortened season, and he appeared to be on pace to set career highs across the board until he suffered a Lisfranc fracture. He is saying he will be ready for training camp, so hopefully he will be ready for the start of the season as well. Brown is 29, so he should have a year or two left, and the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall should open the field up more for him this season.
Others Considered: San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree, Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin
Standards Set: The big thing with Brown is staying healthy. Even though he has only reached the mark once in his career, I'd like to see Brown break 1,000 rushing yards with about eight touchdowns. I think he can haul in about 25 passes for 200 yards as well.
5) Michael Crabtree, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
Team: Ryan R. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: When Ronnie Brown went before me, I wasn't enamored with any remaining back. I've never taken four consecutive WRs and definitely haven't ever taken four in the first five rounds. Crabtree, as my fourth receiver/flex option, brings tremendous upside. In limited play as a rook, he had 48 receptions for 625 yards and two scores while showing no signs of a lengthy holdout. I'm not crazy about banking two of my top players coming from the 49ers' offense, but the potential for growth is there. Crabtree has been diligent with his workouts this offseason and the sky is the limit.
Others Considered: San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson, Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin
Standards Set: 70 receptions, 1,050 yards and five touchdowns are the bare-bones numbers; I think he could be good for much higher if the stars align.
6) Antonio Gates, tight end, San Diego Chargers
Team: Keith Hernandez | Team Roster
Reason: I needed another pass-catching option here, and although I wasn't initially looking to go tight end, Gates will give me more receptions and scores than the other WRs I considered. What's not to like here? He's in a contract year, the Bolts will be without Vincent Jackson for three weeks and possibly more and Gates has caught at least 60 passes in every season since 2004. The Chargers also consistently target him in the red zone. Gates is dealing with a foot injury heading into training camp, but I'm not worried; he has shown the ability to play through injuries in the past.
Others Considered: Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin, Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe
Standards Set: I'm banking on 1,100 yards and double-digit scores.
7) Hakeem Nicks, wide receiver, New York Giants
Team: Jack Douglas | Team Roster
Reason: My team needed a good second wide receiver with upside. Nicks was a rookie in 2009, but he played well and established solid rapport with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. His potential in 2010 is very good, and he could supplant wide receiver Steve E. Smith for the No. 1 wideout position. There are some injury concerns, but he is young, tough and has good hands. He runs well after the catch, too.
Others Considered: Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin
Standards Set: I'm anticipating 60-plus receptions, 800 to 1,000 receiving yards and seven to nine touchdowns as the no. 2 wide receiver for the Giants. If he becomes the top wideout for the Giants, the numbers could go even higher.
8) Percy Harvin, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Team: Tim Piotrowski | Team Roster
Will this pick cause a headache?
Reason: Harvin had decent 2009 season as a rookie but should become more involved in the offense in his second season. He has the ability to move around in the offense and get some touches in the running game, as well. He should improve in his 2009 stats as long as he has his migraine troubles relatively under control.
Others Considered: Kansas City Chiefs WRDwayne Bowe, Seattle Seahawks WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Standards Set: I would like to see somewhere around 70 receptions, 950-1,000 yards and eight to 10 touchdowns. I also hope he will receive touches in the running game, as well.
9) Vernon Davis, tight end, San Francisco 49ers
Team: John Kotch | Team Roster
Reason: What needs to be said about this guy? He's a stud tight end. Davis had 78 catches for 965 yards last season, which shows that Alex D. Smith relies heavily on him. His 13 touchdowns last year reflect his utilization in the red zone. I considered Dwayne Bowe here, and Jack had already snagged Dallas Clark. I'm on the clock again at Pick 64, so I'll hope Bowe slips a little further. Although, in looking at how the draft has gone thus far, it seems unlikely. Selecting Davis here is a no-brainer.
Others Considered: Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe
Standards Set: There's no reason to believe Davis won't at least match his production from last season. I expect another 80-plus catches, 1,100-plus yards, and 10-plus touchdowns.
10) Jason Witten, tight end, Dallas Cowboys
Team: Jared Byrd | Team Roster
Reason: Witten is among the best offensive weapons a team in a PPR league can have. He has hauled in at least 80 passes each of the last three seasons, including 94 catches last year. The only drawback in his game is a lack of touchdowns - Witten only reached the end zone two more times than I did in 2009.
Others Considered: Philadelphia Eagles TE Brent Celek, Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe
Standards Set: Witten should be good for 90 receptions and 950 yards and five touchdowns.
11) Vincent Jackson, wide receiver, San Diego Chargers
Team: Cory J. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: I was looking for a receiver going into this pick. As my third wideout, I can absorb Jackson's three-game suspension. His lingering contract dispute has me a little concerned, but I don't see how he possibly has a leg to stand on. I expect V-Jax to be in the starting lineup for 13 games this year, and if it isn't with the Chargers, so be it.
Others Considered: New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush, Seattle Seahawks WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Standards Set: In 13 games, assuming he's with the Chargers, Jackson should be good for 50 receptions for 900 yards and six touchdowns.
12) Dwayne Bowe, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Team: Bryce McRae | Team Roster
Reason: I needed a wideout, plain and simple. Mike Sims-Walker is by no means a secure No. 1, so pairing him with Bowe, who should be better in his second year under head coach Todd Haley, hopefully will pay off. Bowe is working out at Larry Fitzgerald's offseason camp; that's a far cry from reporting to camp out of shape last year. The fourth-year receiver is the most talented wideout on Kansas City's roster, and new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will find plenty of ways to make use of him.
Others Considered: None
Standards Set: I'm looking for around 70 receptions for 1,000 yards and six or seven scores. His catches could be much higher, but I'm tempering my expectations for now.
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